Kenya-Somaliland MPs launch caucus to strengthen ties between the countries
Parliamentarians from Kenya and Somaliland have launched a caucus aimed at strengthening diplomatic, trade and socio-political ties between the two countries.
The Caucus formed in the weekend will be chaired by Ijara MP Sophia Abdi Noor.
Somaliland, a country fighting for international recognition has been engaging the foreign nations in Africa and beyond to build its case. Kenya is the latest Somaliland leaders to have formed a caucus with.
The launch of the caucus comes just six months after Somaliland President Musa Bihi made a state visit to Kenya on invitation from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The two leaders discussed wide ranging issues between the two countries and signed a joint communique.
One of the agreements between the two presidents was to improve the diplomatic ties between the two nations by upgrading the Somaliland Liaison office in Nairobi to a consul and opening a Kenyan consul in Somaliland capital, Hargeisa.
The two presidents also agreed on enhancing social, political and trade ties between the two countries.
However the March 31 deadline date set to ensure the agreements in the communique were met has since expired but Somaliland representative to Kenya Bashe Omar says everything is moving smoothly with representatives of the two countries moving with speed to meet the set goals.
And the Somaliland/Kenya Parliamentary caucus agreed to hasten the enforcement of the communique.
“We endeavor to push the frontiers of cooperation and friendship and seek to remove any hindrances so that our people can trade across borders, make and seek investments and opportunities in every possible way,” caucus chairperson Sophia Abdi Noor said.
She added: “The Somaliland Parliament is our core collaborative Partner. It's a people–to–people relationship charted and driven by the people's representatives.
We Kenyan Parliamentarians join the ranks of other Parliamentary Caucuses with which the Somaliland Parliament has similar arrangements with such as the British House of Commons and those in the Scandinavian countries. “
In describing Somaliland, she said: “Somaliland has been aptly described as ‘Africa’s Best Kept Secret’.
In a tumultuous Greater Horn of Africa Region, characterized by unending conflicts, absence of good political democratic and economic governance, and myriad other problems, Somaliland remains the beacon of hope in the region.
Her impressive journey and story of state-craft need to be told and show-cased at every available opportunity, forum and platform so that more countries and people get to know about it to learn from this unique African experience.
And to stand in Solidarity with the people and government of Somaliland for this impeccable achievement”
In his remarks, Somaliland acting foreign minister Liban Yusuf extended his warmest salutations to Kenyans for their support of Somaliland.
“I am indeed so pleased to witness and participate with you in this auspicious occasion and to celebrate the launch of the Kenyan and Somaliland parliamentary caucus.
Somaliland and Kenya share common values and principles of democracy, good political governance symbolized by the vibrancy of our parliamentary democracy, free market economies, respect of fundamental rights including human rights, transparency and open systems of government, freedoms of association and expression including free press among other things,” said minister Liban
He added: “We are fully aware and remain seized with the great excitement, some positive and immensely encouraging particularly from our peoples’ and our good and genuine friends but also the un-warranted likely skepticism and rigid resistance from other quarters from the sweeping momentum of our cooperation and friendship. The hope for the future of our peoples’ that this cooperation carries has remained largely hidden from our critics.”
Dr Adan Keynan, the MP for Eldas and Secretary, Joint Jubilee Coalition and Commissioner, Parliamentary Service Commission said “Kenya and Somaliland have many converging interests and are increasingly becoming strategic allies.
That brings me to the role of Parliament in complementary diplomacy which is now the norm and hall-mark of Parliamentary practice across many jurisdictions.
Our essence and role is to promote good relations and cooperation for the benefit of our country and the people we represent,” said Sophia Abdi.
Keynan added: “The Official Visit to Kenya in December by President Musa Bihi Abdi and the dialogue he had with his host President Uhuru Kenyatta is an acknowledgement of our common heritage as well as our shared aspirations and the need for us to work together for the benefit of us all.”
Somaliland representative to Kenya Bashe Omar said his office in Nairobi will ensure the caucus between legislators from the two countries work towards achieving the set goals by creating engagement opportunities.
Other speakers included Garisa governor Ali Korane who said time has come for Kenya to take the lead in recognizing Somaliland while Madera Senator Maalim Mohammed Mahmoud said Somaliland meets all international requirements for recognition and hence the international community needs to move with speed and grant the country its position in the international map.
The caucus was formed just two weeks after Somaliland held its parliamentary and municipality elections which has been hailed by international observers and diplomats as credible, fair, free and transparent.
The elections have ushered in new MPs who are expected to play a big role in the Kenya/Somaliland parliamentary caucus.